(GENEVA) — The head of the World Health Organization’s office in Europe says figures show that more than 95% of people who have died of coronavirus on the continent have been aged over 60.
But Dr. Hans Kluge said age is not the only risk factor for severe disease, adding: “The very notion that COVID-19 only affects older people is factually wrong.”
In an online news conference Thursday in Copenhagen, Kluge said “young people are not invincible” — echoing similar recent comments from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The U.N. health agency says 10% to 15% of people under 50 with the disease have moderate or severe infection.
“Severe cases of the disease have been seen in people in their teens or 20s with many requiring intensive care and some unfortunately passing away,” Kluge said.
He said recent statistics showed 30,098 people have been reported to have died in Europe, mostly in Italy, France and Spain.
“We know that over 95 percent of these deaths occurred in those older than 60 years,” he said, with more than half aged over 80.
Kluge said more than four in five of those people had at least one other chronic underlying conditions, like cardiovascular disease, hypertension or diabetes.
“On a positive note, there are reports of people over the age of 100 who were admitted to hospital for COVID-19 and have now — since — made a complete recovery,” he said.